New law allows secret recordings

THE NEWS SERVICE
OF FLORIDA

Children in Florida will be able to secretly record conversations related to sexual abuse or other violent acts under a bill signed into law last week by Gov. Rick Scott.

The signing of the measure (HB 7001) on May 22 about secret recordings came a day after Richard McDade, a Fort Myers man who spent four years in prison on charges of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter, was acquitted of the charges by a jury in Lee County.

The Florida Supreme Court in December ordered a new trial for McDade, declaring that recordings made by McDade’s stepdaughter should not have been allowed into his initial Lee County trial.

Exemption for kids
State law generally bars recording of conversations unless all parties agree, and it also prevents such recordings from being used as evidence in court.

The Supreme Court decision spurred the bill, which creates an exemption for children under 18 who have reason to believe that secretly recording a conversation will capture a statement regarding an unlawful sexual act or an unlawful act of physical force against a child.

“Because many young victims feel isolated and alone, and are afraid of not being believed, this step forward is critical for Florida’s children to be both heard and helped,” Lauren Book, chief executive officer and founder of the victims’ advocacy group Lauren’s Kids, said in a statement after the bill was signed by Scott.

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